richard carlson on keeping score

When in Doubt about Whose Turn It Is to Take Out the Trash Go Ahead and Take It Out

If we’re not careful, it’s easy to become resentful about all the responsibilities of daily living. Once, in a very low mood, I figured out that on an average day, I do over 1,000 different things. Of course, when I’m in a better mood, that number is significantly lower.

As I think about it, it’s astounding to me how easy it is for me to remember all the chores that I do, as well as all the other responsibilities that I take care of. But, at the same time, it’s easy for me to forget all the things that my wife does on a daily basis. How convenient!

It’s really difficult to become a contented person if you’re keeping score of all you do. Keeping track only discourages you by cluttering your mind with who’s doing what, who’s doing more, and so forth. If you want to know the truth about it, this is the epitome of “small stuff.” it will bring you far more joy to your life to know that you have done your part and someone else in your family has one less thing to do, than it will to worry and fret over whose turn it is to take out the trash.

The strongest argument against this strategy is the concern that you’ll be taken advantage of. This mistake is similar to believing it’s important that you’re right. Most of the time it’s not important that you’re right, and neither is it important if you take the trash out a few more times than your spouse or housemate. Making things like garbage less relevant in your life will undoubtedly free up more time and energy for truly important things.

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